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There are great benefits to connectedness, but we haven't wrapped our minds around the costs.

the incentives of their environment
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:58 am EDT, Sep 28, 2014

Emma Watson:

Stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we are.

Michael Lewis:

"I'm going to Goldman," is still about as close as it gets in the real world to "I'm going to Harvard," at least for the fiercely ambitious young person who is ambitious to do nothing in particular.

People like to think they have a "character," and that this character of theirs will endure, no matter the situation. It's not really so. People are vulnerable to the incentives of their environment, and often the best a person can do, if he wants to behave in a certain manner, is to choose carefully the environment that will go to work on their characters.

When you start your career you might think you are setting out to change the world, but the world is far more likely to change you. So watch yourself, because no one else will.

Moxie Marlinspike:

Look carefully at how they spend their time at work and outside of work, because this is also almost certainly how your life will look. It sounds obvious, but it's amazing how often young people imagine a different projection for themselves.

Look at the real people, and you'll see the honest future for yourself.

Jeff Bezos:

Cleverness is a gift, kindness is a choice.

Gifts are easy -- they're given, after all. Choices can be hard.

You can seduce yourself with your gifts if you're not careful, and if you do, it'll probably be to the detriment of your choices.


the mountain and me
Topic: Miscellaneous 2:41 pm EDT, Sep 27, 2014

Dan Geer:

Realpolitik says that sentient opponents have always been a fact of life, but never before have they been location independent and never before have they been able to recruit mercenaries who will work for free.

Mark Buchanan:

What we gain from free services at first, we more than pay for through long-term damage to our economic lives --  as well as to democratic freedom.

Merle Travis / Tennessee Ernie Ford / George S. Davis:

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt

Samantha Power:

There are great benefits to connectedness, but we haven't wrapped our minds around the costs.

Clay Johnson:

Your clicks have consequences.

Omner Barajas:

There is undeniable evidence that our dependence on interconnected technology is defeating our ability to secure it.

Mason, Waters, Wright, and Gilmour:

And you run and run to catch up with the sun, but it's sinking
And racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you're older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death

Li Po:

We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains.


an unsustainable model
Topic: Miscellaneous 2:41 pm EDT, Sep 27, 2014

John Kay:

The one certainty about the outcome [of the Scottish independence referendum] was that any close result was a bad result. It is. Those who argued in 1997 that devolution was a slippery slope were right. Last week, Scottish nationalists lost a battle. But the outcome makes it very likely they have won their war.

Christopher Jencks:

People who spend time in poor black communities often comment on how distrustful residents are of one another. The fact that the police frequently blackmail residents of these neighborhoods to inform on one another presumably contributes to such pervasive distrust.

While the police win most of the battles, they are not winning the war.

Shawn Henry, FBI executive assistant director [in 2012]:

We're not winning.

I don't see how we ever come out of this without changes in technology or changes in behavior, because with the status quo, it's an unsustainable model. Unsustainable in that you never get ahead, never become secure, never have a reasonable expectation of privacy or security.

Giles Fraser:

Just wars require not only proportionality but also a reasonable chance of success. And the problem with so much of the west's military involvement in Iraq, in particular, is that it has precious little conception of what success actually looks like.

Adam Gopnik:

The best argument for reading history is not that it will show us the right thing to do in one case or the other, but rather that it will show us why even doing the right thing rarely works out.

James Suroweicki:

The only way to win the game is simply not to play.


I do remember how bad I hated all the misery I can't remember
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:45 am EDT, Sep 23, 2014

Taffy Brodeseser-Akner:

By March, 25 million people were dancing to "#Selfie." Was that because we liked it, or because our very means for cultural discovery had been manipulated to guarantee that we would?

David Brooks:

If you want to win the war for attention, don't try to say "no" to the trivial distractions you find on the information smorgasbord; try to say "yes" to the subject that arouses a terrifying longing, and let the terrifying longing crowd out everything else.

David Streitfeld:

The man who sells half the books in America seemed to want nothing more each year than for everyone to have a good time. All he asked in return was silence.

An Amazon spokesman did not respond to questions on the subject of fear.

Joshua Rothman:

We live in a consumer society premised on the idea of self-expression through novelty. We believe that we can find ourselves through the acquisition of new things. Perhaps inevitably, we have reconceived creativity as a kind of meta-consumption: a method of working your way toward the other side of the consumer-producer equation, of swimming, salmon-like, back to the origin of the workflow.

Among the many things we lost when we abandoned the Romantic idea of creativity, the most valuable may have been the idea of creativity's stillness. If you're really creative, really imaginative, you don't have to make things. You just have to live, observe, think, and feel.

Patricia Robinson:

For some reason, knowing tomorrow won't be so bad doesn't make today pass any faster. In my experience. But that awful day was Monday, and now it's Friday and I don't remember how bad I felt. Now that is a genuine blessing, because I do remember how bad I hated all the misery I can't remember.


orders of magnitude
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:44 am EDT, Sep 22, 2014

Jose Ferreira, CEO of Knewton:

We have five orders of magnitude more data about you than Google has.

Douglas Haddow:

These are the most boring people on the planet. And it's their world now, we're just supplying the data for it.

Maciej Ceglowski:

Surveillance as a business model is the only thing that makes a site like Facebook possible.

Tim Parks:

I feel guilty. They paid for everything. What am I doing trying to hold a bit back? What if they find out?


as if I ever stood a chance
Topic: Miscellaneous 9:02 am EDT, Sep 20, 2014

George Friedman:

Nationalism, the remembrance and love of history and culture, is not a trivial thing.

Cosmas Mairosi:

we are here
slaving for sovereignty by selling freedom
into the captivity of patriotism.

Richard Poplak:

Eight thousand seven hundred and fifty heavily armed men and women, all here to help France pay the price for inventing countries.

Ian Bogost:

Have you not accepted your smartphone's reign over you, rather than lamenting it? The hope and promise of new computer technology has given way to the malaise of living with it.

George Friedman:

The tough part of national self-determination is the need to make decisions and live with them.

Thomas Rodham Wells:

The involvement of producers in shaping and ordering our desires means that welfare (the satisfaction of our preferences) can depart from autonomy (the sovereignty or 'ourness' of our preferences).

Mordechai Geldman:

I must look for my loss
in order to know what I'm looking for
is it an object or a thing or the thing
and was it mine before it was lost
or is it that some inner authority
is trying to bequeath me, like a Hellenistic sophist,
something I had never possessed
as for example a chance
as if I ever stood a chance


further down the unending path of knowing, deeper into the night
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:41 pm EDT, Sep 18, 2014

Decius, in 2004:

I've come to the conclusion that you actually want shifty, dishonest politicians elected by an apathetic populace. This means that things are working. I'm confident that technology has improved the resources available to people if/when they choose to act. So far they don't need to, largely. Don't wish for times when they do.

Kevin Kelly:

This is the time that folks in the future will look back at and say, "Oh to have been alive and well back then!"

Derek Parfit, via Larissa MacFarquhar:

Most of us care about our future because it is ours -- but this most fundamental human instinct is based on a mistake. Personal identity is not what matters.

Ta-Nehisi Coates:

The citizen is lost in the labyrinth constructed by his country, when in fact straight is the gate, and narrow must always be the way. When I left for Middlebury, I had just published an article arguing for reparations. People would often ask me what change I expected to come from it. But change had already come. I had gone further down the unending path of knowing, deeper into the night. I was rejecting mental enslavement. I was rejecting the lie.

Mark Blyth:

It's not about costs, risks, or uncertainties; it's about the idea that a different future is possible.

John Fraser:

A sense of entitlement sits more naturally beside a sense of grievance than most people realize.

Neil Irwin:

No matter how entrenched our government institutions may seem, they rest on a bedrock assumption: that the leaders entrusted with power will deliver the goods.

Power is not a right; it is a responsibility. The way things are going currently isn't good enough, and voters are getting angry enough to want to do something about it.

George Friedman:

The tough part of national self-determination is the need to make decisions and live with them.

Adam Gopnik:

The best argument for reading history is not that it will show us the right thing to do in one case or the other, but rather that it will show us why even doing the right thing rarely works out.

A.O. Scott:

A crisis of authority is not for the faint of heart. It can be scary and weird and ambiguous. But it can be a lot of fun, too.

Noam Scheiber:

Every successful startup is in some sense a confidence game.


the mysteries have multiplied
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:39 am EDT, Sep 16, 2014

Jess Zimmerman:

In an episode of The Simpsons called Blood Feud, the ancient Mr Burns is revitalised by a transfusion from 10-year-old Bart, who shares his rare blood type. After the procedure, the usually decrepit Burns glad-hands his way around the nuclear plant he owns, trilling cheerfully: 'Hey there, Mr Brown-Shoes! How about that local sports team?' 'It's funny, Smithers,' he muses to his obsequious right-hand man. 'I've tried every tincture and poultice and tonic and patent medicine there is, and all I really needed was the blood of a young boy.'

Now, there is scientific evidence that Mr Burns was right.

Marcelo Gleiser:

As the Island of Knowledge grows, so do the shores of our ignorance.

Tim Radford:

A couple of decades ago, physicists spoke confidently of a "theory of everything" and one or two even proposed an "end to science". All has now changed. The mysteries have multiplied.

Taylor Swift:

I have to stop myself from thinking about how many aspects of technology I don't understand.


inversion therapy
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:38 am EDT, Sep 16, 2014

Ian Leslie:

Sometimes it's only when a difficulty is removed that we realise what it was doing for us.

Peter Pomerantsev:

If nothing is true, then anything is possible.

Paul Hughes:

The last person standing on the battlefield is no longer necessarily the winner.

Ann Helen Petersen:

The more you make the evidence of the game disappear, the more your audience will be willing to forget that they're being played.


we are collectively architecting an inescapable sense of vulnerability
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:41 am EDT, Sep 10, 2014

Elizabeth Buchanan, the director of the Center for Applied Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Stout:

But just because we can do this with the data, should we?

Douglas Bonderud:

When it's all said and done, there's no such thing as a "free" app -- and the real cost is measured in data, not dollars.

danah boyd:

We are collectively architecting the technological infrastructure of this world. Are we OK with what we're doing and how it will affect the society around us?

Dan Geer:

A right to be forgotten is the only check on the tidal wave of observability that a ubiquitous sensor fabric is birthing now, observability that changes the very quality of what "in public" means.

Zeynep Tufekci:

Algorithms are meant to be gamed.

An algorithm can perhaps surface guaranteed content, but it cannot surface unexpected, diverse and sometimes weird content exactly because of how algorithms work: they know what they already know.

Casey Newton:

There is the inescapable sense that when it comes to your data, disaster is always one step ahead of you.

Chris Soghoian:

Effective privacy education should not be communicated with a nudge and a wink.

Ed Felten:

Storing data on a phone carries an inherent risk. The complexity of the software on our phones, and the network and cloud infrastructure to which they connect, makes it difficult to identify, let alone secure, all of the points of vulnerability. It's prudent to assume that anything on your phone is potentially at risk.


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